The situation around coronavirus has been rapidly escalating both within New Zealand and across the world.
As we move to the country’s highest alert level, it feels like the fight against the virus is front and centre of everything we do, see and hear.
We all have a part to play, whether rural and urban.
Essential farm activities need to continue, but they will look a bit different this year, whether it be the autumn muster, daily milking, shearing, harvesting or other.
It’s more important than ever for agriculture and horticulture to carry on doing what it does best. That’s putting high-quality food on people’s tables, earning export revenue, providing the country with stability, and lighting the path for our friends in tourism, forestry and other industries to follow once the world is back on an even keel.
We know that the impacts of the virus will be felt across New Zealand, and our economy will take a hit. Farmers have been pressure over the past 12 months, with regulations and red tape proposed on virtually everything they do. This has been compounded in many areas by volatile weather events.
Coronavirus will add to the pressures, and Federated Farmers will continue to work with the government and others to highlight these concerns.
These include our frustrations last week that the Otago Regional Council was fast-tracking a re-do of its Regional Policy Statement. We were appalled to see that involved public meetings in rural towns, at a time physical distancing was actively encouraged. This put farmers and their staff at risk.
Members of the public can take heart that good environmental actions and improvements on-farm will continue and that we are still aware that environmental impacts need to be reduced.
A lot of this is just further embedding good management practices, and building on the work already underway. Rules in council plans and national regulations still apply, so it won’t suddenly turn into the wild west.
We are all living through a critical point in history, so let’s listen to what’s being asked of us, and take back control of New Zealand’s future.